Health center to provide gender-affirming care on campus by fall 2022

The Student Health and Counseling Center proposed a plan to ensure comprehensive gender-affirming care on campus by fall 2022. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

Students and staff have advocated for over a year for the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) to offer gender-affirming care (GAC) for transgender and nonbinary students. In response to their efforts, the SHCC now plans to incorporate GAC by fall 2022. 

Jordan Fitzpatrick, a first-year graduate student in the master’s in social work program, planned an informational meeting for students via Zoom on April 1 in response to students and staff being met with reluctance or refusal by the health center to incorporate GAC.

GAC includes counseling support as well as medical support, such as providing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on campus, for transgender and nonbinary students.

Fitzpatrick was expecting to involve students in advocating for the inclusion of GAC. Instead, he was able to present attendees with the SHCC’s plan for GAC, with both counseling and medical support, including having an “experienced physician [to] provide HRT services on-site,” according to the plan.

The plan states its primary goal is to “provide a sustainable programmatic operational plan supporting our students with gender-affirming care.” 

The plan includes counseling and psychological services, medical services, an improved website with updated resources, a GAC care group, additional SHCC positions to hire for and a Cross-Cultural and Gender Center (CCGC) student liaison, all by the start of the fall 2022 term.

Fitzpatrick, who also uses the pronoun they, explained that offering HRT on campus rather than being referred out is particularly important due to the limited options for GAC within the Central Valley. 

“Most people have to travel outside the Central Valley in order to receive basic care. Often, when transgender and gender nonconforming people do seek medical care in the Central Valley, they face doctors who are not informed on how to care for [them], or refuse care, or are outright hostile to [them],” they said.

Fitzpatrick noted that these students, who paid for services at the health center as part of their tuition just like other students, should be able to receive this care and not be denied hormones due to gender.

During the meeting, Fobear explained that the refusal to offer GAC, and in particular HRT, is an “equity issue.”

Fobear noted that currently two women can go to the SHCC, one cisgender and one transgender, and one can be given hormonal treatment in the form of birth control, and one can be denied hormonal treatment in the form of HRT, and called this an instance of discrimination.

“It’s really important that we make sure that this actually happens and we hold them accountable, and that we have a way to make sure that it stays in place,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fobear and Fitzpatrick assured attendees that despite the promise to incorporate GAC, there was more to be done, and that the process to get there hadn’t been simple, either.

The need to begin offering GAC care arose “about a year and a half ago” before the meeting, according to Fobear, when John Beynon from the English department spoke to the Fresno State LGBT+ Allies Network on the need for and the possibility of providing GAC at the SHCC, which he had seen being done at other CSU campuses, such as Chico State and Cal Poly. 

Concerned campus members formed a GAC subcommittee focused on bringing GAC to campus, and have been in talks for the last year on how to begin offering this care to students as well as protecting transgender and nonbinary students seeking GAC from discrimination, Fobear said. 

“[The talks] intensified within the past four months, where the biggest sticking issue was about providing HRT on campus. There seem to have been a lot of maybe reticence, maybe roadblocks, but basically no sort of commitment into providing this,” Fobear said.

Recent talks, which Fobear described as “intense,” showed no sign of improvement. Despite initially hesitating to involve students out of reluctance to “stress out” transgender and nonbinary students, Fobear said this is when she and Fitzpatrick decided to reach out.

Fitzpatrick sent out the invite to the first informational meeting for the student collective, but on March 31, the SHCC sent in its care model before the meeting even took place. 

Still, due to the struggles to get to that point, attendees stressed the need to ensure accountability by the health center.

Fobear encouraged attendees to continue advocating for the need for GAC on campus and to stay involved in the process, attributing the current successes to student and faculty’s efforts and attention.

The logistics of ensuring accountability and making the GAC sustainable were discussed at the end of the meeting, and will continue to be specified in any upcoming meetings. 

Other topics pertaining to LGBTQ+ students were discussed during the meeting, such as the possibility of turning the University Student Union into an LGBTQ+ center once the Resnick Student Union (RSU) opens. Concerns raised about gender neutral bathrooms in the RSU were settled by ASI President D’Aungullique Jackson, who also attendes and assured other attendess the gender neutral bathrooms would be available.

Students who are interested in attending future meetings and participating in these discussions can email Fitzpatrick at gac4fresnostate@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list and be alerted when future announcements are made.

Previous Story Mochinut celebrates grand opening, more Campus Pointe restaurants to come article thumbnail mt-3

Mochinut celebrates grand opening, more Campus Pointe restaurants to come

Next Story Opinion: Reactions to Kardashian-West drama can hurt others article thumbnail mt-3

Opinion: Reactions to Kardashian-West drama can hurt others